Chris Guillebeau’s advice: Do your own annual review

Chris Guillebeau is a prolific writer, entrepreneur, and global sojourner who is playing a lead role in encouraging people — Gen Xers and Millennials especially — to think creatively and independently about what to do with their lives. One of his recommended life-planning activities is to do your own annual review as the year comes to a close. Using his blog, he shares his annual reviews with readers and asks for their feedback.

In a recent e-mail update to his list subscribers, he describes his annual review process this way:

Every year in December, I go away for a week and spend time reflecting on the year that’s drawing to a close, and then (and more importantly) make a lot of plans for the next year.

I’ve been sharing this process online since 2008, and many of our readers take part in it too. This is a free exercise and you can do it in your own way.

…Since I’ve been following this practice, it’s been the single most important ritual in ensuring I achieve meaningful and challenging goals.

In contrast to employer-provided performance reviews, which even Business Week has tagged a “worthless” corporate practice, the DIY annual review is, well, largely self-generated and self-directed. If, like Chris, you want feedback from others as part of your review process, it’s up to you do solicit it.

In one of my early references to Chris’s work, I praised his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (2010), while adding that it suffered “from a touch of youthful arrogance.” Yikers! Well…today I’d change my words, suggesting that he writes with a (comparatively) youthful confidence that manages to convey both boldness and intelligence. If, at times, I feel a tad uncomfortable with the confidence Chris exudes, it may be due to the fact that I — at middle age — feel less certain about some things that I was completely convinced of back in my 30s. But that’s about me, not anyone else!

In any event, I like the idea of a personal annual review as a centering and planning exercise. I haven’t decided whether I’ll do it at the end of this year of at the conclusion of the academic year next May, but I’m sold on giving this a try.

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